Page last updated at 19:31 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 20:31 UK

OAP jailed for neglecting horses


OAP jailed for neglecting horses

A pensioner has been jailed for eight weeks and banned from keeping horses for two years after pleading guilty to animal neglect charges.

Margaret O'Leary, from Llangollen, Denbighshire, admitted nine charges at Flintshire Magistrates Court in Mold.

Several of her 81 horses were left "massively infested" and one was found dead in barbed wire. The court heard she had tried to hide the horses.

Her solicitor said it was a case of omission than deliberate cruelty.

An earlier hearing heard how 45 horses were rescued by the RSPCA last year.

'Spirited away'

Sentencing O'Leary on Thursday, District Judge Andrew Shaw said the widow had failed to co-operate with the RSPCA and trading standards officials.

He added she had "spirited away" some of the horses in her care.

The judge told her she had failed to accept responsibility and failed to understand the seriousness of her actions.

"You were in a position of special responsibility. You chose to accept a very large number of horses without having the ability to care for them," he said.

She ignored warnings, one animal died and others were affected.

The horses were found grazing in fields littered with barbed wire and rusty metal in Penycae, near Wrexham.

One animal was found dead while others were left emaciated, anaemic, massively infested with parasites and with open wounds.

One of the 45 horses rescued by the RSPCA and Wrexham council

O'Leary, who had been described as a horse "hoarder," admitted six charges of causing unnecessary suffering and two of keeping horses in a hazardous environment.

She also admitted one charge of obstruction by removing horses to two locations during the investigation.

The case is estimated to have cost Wrexham Council 107,000.

A previous hearing was told the dead horse was found on 3 December last year and she was issued with an improvement notice.

A few days later, a vet visited the horses which were suffering from worms, and O'Leary was told they would be removed from her.

When the time for removal came, only days later, RSPCA officers were thwarted because O'Leary had shifted them.

The court heard the frail pensioner had stayed up until 0400 BST hiding the animals in adjacent fields.

Euros Jones, defending, said O'Leary loved horses, they were her life and that of her family and her own vet considered she was fit to keep them.

She had slept in stables caring for horses, and he said that if she was banned from keeping horses she would be deprived of her livelihood and her social life, which was centred on horse racing and horse shows.

Mr Jones said that his client did accept responsibility but it was a case of omission rather than being deliberately cruel.

Horse died caught in barbed wire
19 Jun 08 |  North East Wales

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